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An Infopeople Online Learning Course

February 25th, 2014 12:00 PM
March 24th, 2014 4:30 PM

Course Instructor: Dave Tyckoson

Traditionally, libraries developed print reference collections full of encyclopedias, dictionaries, biographies, indexes, and other tools to provide quick access to authoritative information for users and staff. Today, many of these print materials see little or no use, with staff and users turning to online resources instead. Formats for reference resources are evolving and library staff and user expectations are evolving along with them.

  • Are you able to rethink the purpose and development of your library's reference collection?
  • Make decisions about purchase of new resources or about the weeding or circulating of print reference items?
  • Can you effectively promote reference resources-print and online-to your users?

This course will explore the nature and purpose of reference collections, how reference resources are changing, and how collection decisions must change to meet staff and user needs and library budget constraints. The instructor will provide methods for measuring usage of resources in multiple formats, supply weeding guidelines, identify sources for reviews of print and online reference tools, and examine ways to promote use of reference materials. As a result you will be able to suggest changes to reference collection development and policy that better reflect the realities of today's demand for and usage of these resources, as well as shifting budgets. Rethinking today's reference resources will help you build a 21st century collection.

This course has been repeated a number of times due to interest in the topic. Some of those who previously took the course said: "The instructor was excellent and all the material was valuable!" "Well worth the time spent…" and "This was a very inspiring class with a great deal of new ideas that are immediately applicable to our library and our community."

Course Description: This four-week online course will encourage you to rethink your reference collection and identify changes that reflect today's realities while promoting increased user and staff satisfaction. You will learn how to determine usage of print reference materials, make weeding decisions, and find sources for reviews of reference resources in both print and online formats. Through reading materials, assignments, discussion, and interaction with the instructor and other learners, you will explore ways to promote reference collections and resources to your user community. In the third week of the course, you will have an opportunity to participate in an online meeting to discuss collection evaluation and promotion of usage.

Course Outline: When you log in to the Infopeople online learning site, you will see weekly modules with these topics:

  • Week 1: The State of Print Reference
    • Traditional role of the print reference collection
    • How and why usage of traditional print reference sources is changing
    • Alternatives for reference resources in electronic formats
    • Factors for selection decisions for reference resources
  • Week 2: Assessing the Reference Collection
    • Methods for measuring usage of items
    • Assessing the condition and currency of items in the print reference collection
    • Factors that influence weeding decisions.
    • The weeding process and specific considerations for decision making
    • Comparison of print and electronic reference resources
  • Week 3: Reference Collection Changes
    • Promoting the collection through displays and shelving
    • Changing circulation policies for reference books
    • Evaluating purchasing decisions
    • Changes to reference collection development policies
    • Sources for reviews of print and electronic reference resources
  • Week 4: Building a 21st Century Reference Collection
    • The future of print and electronic reference sources
    • The future of reference collections
    • Tools for integration of reference with other materials
    • User instruction on reference resources

Time Required: To complete this course, you can expect to spend 2½ hours per week, for a total of 10 course hours. Each week's module contains readings and various optional assignments and discussions. You can choose the options most relevant to your work and interests. Although you can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night, it is recommended that you complete each week's work within that week to stay in sync with other learners.

Who Should Take This Course: Staff who are involved with decisions about reference collections in public and academic libraries. Whether you are in charge of recommending or purchasing reference resources, involved in collection development for the entire library, or just use reference collections to help your users, this course will help you build and maintain a more effective reference collection, in print and online.

Online Learning Details and System Requirements may be found at:

Course Start: This online learning course starts on Tuesday, February 25, 2014.

After the official end date for the course, the instructor will be available for limited consultation and support for two more weeks, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that. These extra weeks give those who have fallen behind time to work independently to complete the course.